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Peggy Fleming

Updated on November 23, 2015

I Fell in Love With Figure Skating After Watching Peggy Fleming Skate in the 1968 Winter Olympics

At the age of ten, I fell in love with figure skating. I was living in Germany at the time the 1968 Winter Olympics was televised. When the Ladies Figure Skating event came up, I remember watching with anticipation as each figure skater, one by one, performed her routine in hopes of winning the gold medal.

When Peggy Fleming skated, she truly was art in motion. I was enchanted by her elegant and graceful carriage and clean performance. At the end of her program, I said, "Wow! She is the best one of all!" And the rest is history! Peggy deservedly won the gold medal for women's figure skating in the 1968 Olympics. She inspired me then, and she still inspires me today.

Great performances from US figure skating championships, including Peggy Fleming

Ice Dreams by Clement Micarelli. Photo credit: Art.com
Ice Dreams by Clement Micarelli. Photo credit: Art.com

Four Reasons to Love Peggy Fleming

At the 1968 Winter Olympics, Peggy Fleming won the gold medal in Ladies Figure Skating. It was the only gold medal won by the United states at the Winter Olympics that year.

As a breast cancer survivor, Peggy has helped in the fight against breast cancer, raising funds procured through the selling of her "Victory" wines.

Since 1981, Peggy Fleming's expertise has both informed and entertained us in her role as on air analyst for ABC Sports.

In 1994, Sports Illustrated, in its 40th anniversary issue, named Peggy Fleming one of "40 for the ages--40 individuals who have most significantly altered or elevated the world of sports in the last 40 years."

Who is Your Favorite Female Figure Skater of All Time?

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"I think exercise tests us in so many ways, our skills, our hearts, our ability to bounce back after setbacks. This is the inner beauty of sports and competition, and it can serve us all well as adult athletes."~~Peggy Fleming

Tomboy Turned Ice Princess

Peggy, the second (of four) daughter of Al and Doris Fleming, was born on a farm outside San Jose, California on July 27, 1948.

As a child, Peggy was a tomboy; her favorite activities were playing baseball and climbing trees.

When Peggy was nine years old, her life would forever change when she put on her first pair of ice skates; It was love at first sight. Two years later, she won her first figure skating competition, with many more to follow.

Peggy Fleming--1968 Olympics

Golden Girl of the 1968 Winter Olympics

In 1961, when Fleming was twelve, her coach, Bill Kipp, was killed when he and the entire U.S. figure skating delegation perished in a plane crash en route to the world championships in Prague.

Peggy, as a promising junior member of the team, was the new hope; she was groomed to help fill in the void left in the wake of the tragedy.

Peggy's new coach, Carlo Fassi, put his complete faith in her, and she didn't disappoint: Fleming went on to win five U.S. titles and three world titles for the United States.

In 1968, Peggy won the biggest prize of all: skating in a simple chartreuse dress in the free-skating program of the 1968 Winter Olympics, Fleming won the gold medal by 88.2 points over her closest competitor.

Fleming not only won the only gold medal for the United States in the 1968 Winter Olympics, she also re-established the dominance of the United States in women's figure skating.

Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Olympic Medal Ceremony

Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Olympic Medal Ceremony
Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Olympic Medal Ceremony

The Crash of Sabena Flight 548

Read the Story of the Tragic Loss of the 1961 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team

Frozen in Time: The Enduring Legacy of the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team
Frozen in Time: The Enduring Legacy of the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team

I own this book, and it's a fascinating read, which I found hard to put down. In 1961, en route to the World Championships in Prague, the entire United States Olympic team, as well as several officials, perished in a devastating plane crash. The book really personalizes the skaters so that I felt that I knew them, and it was interesting to discover their interests, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions, as well as what went on behind the scenes of competitive figure skating.

 

The Tragic Loss of the Talented 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Olympic Team

Peggy Fleming on Sports Illustrated

Peggy Fleming on Sports Illustrated
Peggy Fleming on Sports Illustrated

Quick, what do you think of Peggy Fleming?

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Professional Skater, Sports Analyst, Actress, Motivational Speaker, and Breast Cancer Survivor

A few months after her gold medal win, Peggy became a professional skater for the Ice Follies. She later skated for Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and other skating shows.

Peggy starred in five TV specials, winning two Emmy Awards for her Sun Valley special. She has also appeared on television shows such as "Diagnosis Murder," and "Newhart," in addition to doing commercial endorsements.

Invited to the white house by four different administrations, in 1980, Fleming was the first skater ever to perform there.

In 1999, Fleming was one of seven athletes honored at the Sports Illustrated 20th Century Awards. These "Athletes Who Changed the Game," included Billie Jean King, Jackie Robinson, and Arnold Palmer.

Since 1981, Peggy has been an on air analyst for ABC Sports, covering national, world, and Olympic competitions. Her long career with ABC sports is testament to her popularity and long-standing trust with her viewing audience.

Fleming's continuing popularity is also evident in her numerous speaking engagements for companies such as: Susan G. Kroman Foundation, John Hancock, Hallmark, and American Express.

In 1998, Peggy faced the biggest challenge of all: she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 30th anniversary of her gold medal win in the 1968 Winter Olympics. Thankfully, the cancer was caught early, and Fleming was cured after undergoing a lumpectomy and months of radiation treatments.

Fleming calls her battle against breast cancer, "another Olympics, a life Olympics," and her drive to help others is evident in her promotion of breast cancer awareness through the sharing of her experiences, while she makes guest appearances on shows such "Oprah" and "20/20."

"When the going got tough, I really had to draw on many of the same competitive instincts I did when I was skating. I really had to put my head down and stay positive. I had to fight."~~Peggy Fleming

Beloved Philanthropist

Peggy and husband Greg (whom she married in 1970) operated Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery in California for 5 1/2 years, raising $60,000 to help fund breast cancer research. They are now enjoying a simpler life together, taking time out to enjoy their children and grandchildren.

Peggy has also been involved in many important projects over the years: she is the national spokesperson for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and has also served on several community project boards, such as San Jose's Sports Authority, and was honorary chairman for Easter Seals, and the PTA.

Peggy Fleming is beautiful--both inside and out. She is brave, caring, and a great role model. As she continues on with her "life olympics," I will forever be inspired by her.

Peggy Fleming at Madison Square Garden

Did You Watch the 1968 Winter Olympics?

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    • Blonde Blythe profile image
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      Blonde Blythe 3 years ago

      Thank you very much! Peggy Fleming is my hero! :)

    • Jesse Helms profile image

      Jesse Helms 3 years ago from Irvine, California

      Great article!

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Absolutely love Peggy Fleming. So much beauty, such grace!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Yes! I am exactly your age and I too fell in love with Peggy Fleming. Thanks for the memory lens!

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 5 years ago from Canada

      Peggy was such a great skater and pretty too!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 5 years ago

      It was the first time I ever really watched the olympics. She made an impression on me.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Yes, I watched with interest in 1968 cause my husband was stationed in Colorado when he came back from Vietnam and we used to go to a Ice rink, and there was this young girl practicing skating, we watched her many times and found out later that that was Peggy Fleming...Where in Germany did you live? I lived in Garmisch before I came to America.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I;m sure I did ,because in those days, I did watch Olympics on TV

    • profile image

      artdecoco 7 years ago

      probably did, but it was so long ago